As my first post for the Personal Branding Blog I have thought for a while about what I wanted to write. I have a pile of ideas that I will be sharing every week about everything from tips and tricks, for getting things done while working for a large corporation or with solo-preneurs, to how to build alliances that are predictable and repeatable. I’ll also take the occasional detour where I‘ll talk about making time for yourself.
I have a few posts coming that will cover topics about a few areas where I have been working for years. Specifically, the intersection between Social, Mobile and Cloud Computing. Where I will be discussing the rise and need for the Consumerization of Information Technology (COIT) and Bringing Your Own Device (BYOD) to work … no matter where that “work” may occur. Today I spend the majority of my working days building and developing alliances with technology and services companies. I will be sharing what I have learned about alliances and getting things done in easy to digest bite sized chunks.
However for this first post I thought I’d share a few tips I wish I’d learned (or perhaps listened more effectively for) when I was younger. It’s not game over for me. I’m still learning every day. I’d like to think that my years of experience has given me some modicum of wisdom. However, I have to say I am regularly and pleasantly surprised to see what my peers and especially the up and coming generation of technical and business professionals come up with every day.
Why Five Points?
Simple … you can look at your hand as a mnemonic to quickly remember them.
1. Listen First
There is a time for action. However, as I have found over the years there is also a time for listening. Sometimes I have found out too late … that “if I had only listened” the result could have been different. So, I try to listen first and then create a plan of action.
An easy way to remember this is “You have two ears and one mouth … use them in proportion” — which I can tell you from years of experience doesn’t always work this way.
2. Niches Matter
Niches don’t have to stay niches. There are small business opportunities waiting around every corner. Most of the time they are in plain sight … just waiting to be explored and exploited.
I recommend that everyone read Chris Guillebeau’s book – The $100 Startup. Whether you are working for a large company or being an entrepreneur or working in one of the more traditional solo practitioner roles (which includes doctors, lawyers, accountants, etc.) this book has great ideas for thinking outside the box to identify niche markets. Key point – Niches don’t have to stay niches. You can take them as far as you want.
One thing I have offered to do for my kids is fund the first 10% of my kids’ first business if they read just the first 50 pages. I’m not quite ready to do that here for all the readers of the Personal Branding Blog, but I’m thinking about it.
3. Find a Mentor
It doesn’t need to be a formal thing. It can be a teacher you have known for years. It can be a colleague within your company. It can be any person you admire and respect. A mentor can provide a sanity check on so many things and they can do it from an outsiders perspective.
One thing to keep in mind — Good mentoring relationships are not a one way street. See what you can give back. For more about what to ASK a business mentor see Maria Duron’s post about Best Questions to Ask a Business Mentor
4. Take Risks
The old adage of Nothing Ventured — Nothing Gained is an apropos starting point. But it’s only the beginning. There is a particular advantage for people in the younger generations in that they can take risks because they may not have as much to lose. Of course, this is different for everyone, but generally risks taken early in life lead to experiences that help create future success.
One thing to keep in mind: Fail Fast. Yes, everything doesn’t work out. It is better to fail quickly and move on. Take what you’ve learned and put it to good use on the next venture. So, Fail Fast.
Offering up your time and expertise is a great way to learn, to meet people (perhaps your future mentor) and to give something back. I have found that everyone — no matter how old or young has something to give, to give back and to share. I have also found that the people I’ve met, the things I’ve learned and the friendships I’ve made have had a direct impact and a long lasting effect. There is a lot of satisfaction from volunteering. If you aren’t volunteering today … get started and find something tomorrow.
There you have it – My five things.
These are just a few points I wish I knew of and heeded when I was younger. The good news is … it’s never too late.
What are the things you wished you had learned earlier in life? How have you compensated for them? How do you share what you know?
Drop me a line here in the comments and let’s start a dialogue.
Jeff is a veteran in the Enterprise Content Management industry. Over the past 20 years he has worked with customers and partners to design, develop and deploy solutions around the world. Jeff is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances at Winshuttle. He has worked for Microsoft, FileNet (IBM), K2, Captaris, Open Text, Kofax and Kodak. He speaks and blogs about ECM and the Intersection between Social, Mobile and Cloud Computing